Today’s Consumers Want Authenticity, Not An Advertising Scheme

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How your small business can help achieve the American dream

Editor’s note: This is part two of a two part article, in part one we covered: How Advertisers Are Selling the American Dream [Video]

Marketers and business owners take note: it appears that affluence has fallen out of style. What does that mean? It means that marketing strategies should center upon the experiences, or intangible qualities, offered by a product or service rather than its material value.

The American Dream most essentially defined by self-determination

Because the American Dream most essentially defined by self-determination, today’s consumers don’t want to feel as if an advertising scheme is compelling them to make a purchase. Consumers want to feel like their decisions to invest in your business’s products or services are totally their own, without pretense. They want total authenticity, from their products and from themselves. This doesn’t mean you stop promoting your business. It means you do it in a new way. For example, instead of investing in an infomercial, invest in a social media influencer. When people see influencers using your products or raving about your services, they don’t think of it as an advertisement. It’s more like advice from a friend, somebody trusted.

Both you and your consumers win. Authenticity reigns, or at least it appears to.

Deceptive nature of Instagram

Take the deceptive nature of Instagram, for example. Think about influencers with profiles showcasing glittering beaches, gourmet dishes and testimonials to perfect, lifelong relationships, sprinkled with documents of adventures gallivanting around the globe. As consumers we try to emulate these perfect lifestyles with our profiles and our purchases. There’s little to show for rainy days, microwavable dinners, family fights or all those late nights working to afford that zip line tour of Costa Rica.

Instead of showing others who we are, we show them who we want to be. This is how we choose to “advertise” ourselves, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. Likewise, any smart business showcases itself in the best possible light. The best light for your business is one that highlights your authenticity.

Authenticity is an ideal

What does that mean?

Authenticity is an ideal. Because it will always be just out of our grasps, authenticity is the product we can never buy enough of. To be authentic is the perpetual dream today, and it won’t stop selling any time soon. If the American Dream is defined most essentially as the freedom to be yourself—and your best self, at that—the advertiser’s job has shifted from selling products to selling self-improvement.

How will your business help Americans get closer to achieving their American Dream?

The answer is hidden in your marketing, its angle and message. Options for promoting your business are essentially endless.

Start by targeting your key audience. What method of delivery will reach the most of them? For broad or specific audiences, social media is always a good choice as apps are continually advancing and refining their abilities to analyze user data and target ads. These could be banners, videos, live video promotions or partnering with influencers. If your audience is likely to own a smart speaker, like Amazon Alexa or Google Home, you may choose to market with audio content.

For example, if you want to reach aspiring chefs, you may partner with and advertise through a cooking podcast. In this context, it’s a lot like marketing with an influencer on Instagram. Your message feels less like paid content and more like a friendly suggestion.

Takeaway

What’s key is that your consumers feel like they are making a choice for themselves. If your buyers feel good after investing in your goods or services, they are likely to return and your business will reap the benefits. People still want most of the things they have always wanted—the American Dream still means buying a house, having a family and succeeding professionally. The biggest difference today is how these goals are approached. Similarly, the key to successfully marketing your business is approaching consumers in the right way.

This two-part series has been co-authored by Amber Flaskey,

Related articles:

Part one: How Advertisers Are Selling the American Dream [Video]

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